Dam crew to take a break until Labor Day
by Sheila Stamiris, DDA Director
CTI will be complete with downstream work that can be done by Friday of this week. They have done a great job-really good operators and employees working to keep the project moving right along.
Crews will be off until after Labor Day when they will return to work on Tuesday, September 8. The schedule is to begin removing the top four boards in the dam at 8am and drawing the water down, and then a board an hour every hour until all nine are out. Expectations are that the water level will go down four feet to begin work on the south bank on Wednesday, September 9. There, they will build the two vanes, or stabilizing stone arms prior to work on the dam itself. They will also add "armor" (or stone rip-rap) to the south bank to hold it in place. This is to protect from water and ice floes that can scour and erode the hill.
Expected work upstream will be over the next 15 work days from September 8, including the two vanes, completion of Weir 3 (just below the dam, Weir 2 (on the dam) and Weir 1 (above the dam.) Weir 1 and 2 are the same height; the space between them will be filled with stone and with the finer soils from the pool to be carved from the base of the ramp (by Weir 14) that will be dug at this time, also. Filling in the space with this finer material will help bring the water level up faster. The other weirs will rely on the movement of silt in the river to fill in between the stones. Over time, this will soften the harsh stone look we have now.
Once the water level is down, bringing it back up will depend on area rain and run-off-if we continue the dry summer into the fall, the restoration will be slower. A rainy September and the river will come back faster. However, it will be hard to work and slower to finish.
The City requested to wait to lower the upstream pool until after Labor Day because of the boating season slows in September but for weekends. We are hopeful to get the boats back in the river for color tours by October. Both the Frankenmuth Fun Ship and Bavarian Belle are troopers in this project and we are appreciative of their cooperation. Locals can thank them for their support by booking rides with them -- both are wonderful excursions for families or for date night!
While the work is waiting to resume, crews will not be on-site. The construction area will remain off limits and we ask visitors to enjoy the view, but to avoid walking on the stones. The gaps between the stones can be big and the water can distort the real conditions under the top of the water.
There are gaps between the stones because the fish don't swim in the larger openings near the center; they swim upstream near the riverbanks where the water velocities are slower and less forceful.
We have received questions on the debris that will come down from the upstream including trees and limbs. For the most part, during normal water flows, debris will flow through the rock ramp as it has always. There may be debris left as it has been in years past. Similarly, the City will remove it if necessary. Prior to construction this year, many logs were stuck on the dam. The City left the logs to save money knowing the construction crews were coming in to work on the dam. So, the answer to the question is this, whether the rock ramp is there or not, there will be occasional maintenance and cleanup required in the area. The City will take care of this. But, with this permanent investment in the fish passage project, there will be no more major investment needed to spend on the dam itself, in the $100,000's of thousands every 10 years or so to keep the dam stable and in good repair.
Another question we've gotten is about the fisherman's pool, below the last weir (14) will be a new pool, that will be dug before the project is finished. Over time this pool will deepen with the movement of the river. This pool used to be just below the dam; now it is located just below Weir 14. This will be the new fisherman's pool.
One last question we've gotten-will the water stink in the shallow pools? I asked Dr. Verry this question and the answer is "no." The new ramp is on a 3% slope, so the water will always be moving down the slope.
Finally, someone asked about how the fish will know where they need to go. The answer is simple, "they travel in schools, and we will teach them." Ha ha. couldn't resist.